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Read in the face: Cyclists get workout, education at Bike the Branches

Brooklyn Paper
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Photo gallery

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Bike buddies: Crown Heights residents Candis Jeffrey and Kerry Duke cycled 16 branches, and Jeffrey says she didn’t even know there were so many in Brooklyn’s library system.
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Hard heads: Crown Heights resident Evan Newell with his kids Kingston, 7, and Phoenix, 4. They cycled to 10 Brooklyn Public Library branches during the system’s Bike the Branches event on May 7.
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Rock and roll: Bands entertained cyclists rolling into the Central Branch all day long.

Call it a study tour!

More than a thousand bicycle-riding bookworms pedaled around the Brooklyn Public Library’s 61 outlets on Saturday as part of the system’s annual Bike the Branches event, and one participant said she learned a whole lot from visiting the libraries — and she didn’t even have to pick up a book.

“I didn’t know we had so many libraries!” said Candis Jeffrey, who toured 16 branches with cycling buddy Kerry Duke.

Participants in the yearly fund-raising event pay for a “passport” and rack up stamps from every branch they hit. Riders can visit the book-borrowing facilities on their own terms, or follow a route around specific areas of the borough.

Another rider said he and his kids also had a blast learning about the various branches they visited — especially the Fort Greene one, which he didn’t even know was there.

“I have been down Myrtle Avenue many times, but I’d never seen it,” said Evan Newell, who toted Kingston, 7, and Phoenix, 4, around to 10 branches — from their home Crown Heights down to Red Hook — with a friend in their first ever Bike the Branches.

Jeffrey, who was also doing the ride for the first time, said it was a great opportunity to see how neighborhoods she hadn’t visited in years had changed.

“To see the development of some of these neighbors — it’s kinda shocking,” said Jeffrey, who has lived in New York for more than 25 years.

Many of the bibliothecas sported entertainment, exhibitions, and food vendors for the two-wheeled tourists, including the Central Library at Grand Army Plaza, which hosted a big bash with live music all day.

Jeffrey said she and Duke are considering biking the branches again next year, and if they do, they will attempt to visit every single stop.

And Newell said he definitely wants to make the tour an annual family event. Next year, the brood will attempt a completely different route to uncover another new swathe of branches, he said.

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with more comments.
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